1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Chalk Claris

Anonymous, in Review of Claris, Thoughts and Feelings; The Literary Gazette (5 February 1820) 88-89.



We presume that Arthur Brooke is a fictitious name; for, however blind men are to their own demerits, it is hardly possible that any person wishing to live well in society should avow himself the author of such immoral sentiments and detestable principles as kindle the verse of this author. In the true cant of the writers in the profligate class to which he belongs, he sets out with expressing a hope, that his "tenderer tone," and "wilder songs," may be relished by the "gentle few," though he anticipates the "Worldling's frown" and "Cynic's sneer;" or in other words, foresees that there are a majority of readers still left in this country, who will rebuke indecency and view with indignation the bold attempts to inculcate doctrines subversive of the very foundations of human happiness. Of all the errors which taint the mind of man, there is not one more falsely grounded, or more fatal in its consequences, than that abominable selfishness which assumes the form of free liberality; and while it works havock and desolation around, prides itself on its superior beauty and perfection: which consults its own gratification at the expense of others' dearest enjoyments; and deems that licentiousness is virtue, and a disregard of every divine and moral institution, wisdom. Into this wretched blindness Mr. Brooke has unhappily fallen. He whines about loveliness and love, and nature and fine feelings; and seems to fancy that genius is synonymous with a perverted imagination; that wild reveries are poetry; and that seduction, adultery, blasphemy, and suicide, are amiable and admirable. The stupidity of such opinions is perhaps the best surety for their not doing the mischief which their propagation might otherwise effect; and the folly and nonsense in which they abound, are good antidotes to the jingling depravity of this click of rhymesters.